Home By Marilynne Robinson Book Review

Home, a book by Marilynne Robinson, has often been touted as being one of the very best novels of the past few decades, and even in the years since its first publication in 2009, the book still remains a firm favorite and a solid classic. 

Home By Marilynne Robinson Book Review

However, you’re likely here because you want to try out the book for yourself, to see what all of the fuss is about, but you want to know what to expect from the novel.

Luckily, you’ve come to just the right place, because today we are going to find out all you could need to know about the novel, including a basic synopsis, a look at some of the various themes and ideas explored in the novel, as well as the novel’s strongest suits. 

So, without any further ado, let’s dive right in!

Home: Synopsis

The story of Home actually occurs concurrently with the events of Robinson’s previous novel Gilead, which followed the story of John Ames.

This novel is set in the same town, the locale of Gilead, within the home of Reverend Robert Boughton.

The story begins by following a woman named Glory Boughton who, at thirty-eight years of age, has returned to the town of Gilead in order to care for her dying father, Reverend Robert Boughton.

Keen-eyed readers of Robinson’s previous work may recognize Reverend Robert Boughton, one of the closest confidants of that novel’s protagonist John Ames.

Glory arrives at the house to the warm welcome of her father, but she is soon followed by the arrival of Jack Boughton, her brother, and the prodigal son of the family. His arrival is not a pleasant or welcome one, however, as he had been missing for more than twenty years! 

Jack returns to the family home, hoping to find refuge, and hoping to escape from the trouble he has caused in the twenty years since he has been gone, hoping to reconcile his past and make amends.

From here, the story explores how both Glory and Jack settle back into their old lives in Gilead, and the troubles they face as part of their return.

Glory finds herself overwhelmed by her return, unable to find a sense of normality, yet still overcome by painful memories of the past that she had once escaped. 

Jack contends with the past that he once escaped upon leaving the town more than twenty years before, including the woman he impregnated before fleeing, and her now 20-year-old child.

At the behest of their father, Jack, and Glory begin to grow closer to one another, and over the course of the novel, we are invited to watch as their sibling bond grows closer and closer, and they learn more about one another, their wider family, and the ways that they have changed since their troubled pasts.

It is really exciting to read along and see as these two once-estranged siblings grow much closer, and begin to understand the deep impact that their pasts have had on them.

They reveal massive secrets, and the ways that the past has changed the both of them. 

Home By Marilynne Robinson Book Review

What Are The Themes Of Home?

Thanks to its plot, the novel Home is able to really effectively explore a number of themes that pertain to the past, being part of a family, and how time passes and changes people!

Let’s take a look at some of these themes! 


One of the biggest themes in the novel is that of forgiveness. The novel focuses on three central characters who find themselves reconnecting after multiple years without contact, and the challenges they face as part of this. 

Each of the three central characters, Glory, Jack, and the Reverend, all have committed acts in their past that they feel as though they need to make amends for, and part of the story is focused on them seeking forgiveness from those that matter to them most. 

The Reverend seeks to apologize for not being a better father to the two children, while Jack seeks to find forgiveness from the woman who mothered his own child. 

It is very heartwarming, and almost cathartic, to read as the characters make amends for their pasts, and do their best to move on from them.


Another of the strongest themes in the novel is that of family. The entire novel is centered around the Boughton family, and how its three key members, Reverend, Glory, and Jack connect to one another. 

The story really tests the limits of family and asks what it actually means to be part of a family, as well as how much we are willing to forgive our families. 

At the start of the story, our three protagonists live fairly isolated lives and do not make much time to connect with one another, as a family, but as the story goes on, their familial bonds become undeniable. 

The story also explores the extent to which individuals may blame themselves for the actions of family members, and whether guilt and blame can be inherited from family. 


The driving force of the story involves both Glory and Jack returning to their childhood home in order to reconnect with their father.

It is explored over the course of the novel that Reverend Robert Boughton was not exactly the best father, and he had a tendency to be neglectful of Glory, while piling love on his only son Jack, who often betrayed his trust.

The story explores what it means to be a father, and whether Reverend should be forgiven for his bad parenting. 


As the Boughton family slowly reconnects, the story explores the impact that time has on our lives, and our relationships with other people in our lives. 

Both Glory and Jack spend a lot of time reconnecting with one another, and reflecting on what has changed about themselves, their relationships, and even the town of Gilead. It’s a very heartwarming story.

While the novel does admit that time ruthlessly marches onward, the changes it can bring are worth seeing through! 

Home: Review

Home is a truly impactful novel that is totally worth reading for yourself. This is down to a number of reasons that make it a truly enriching read.

One of the best things about Home is its rich and complex nature.

The text itself is incredibly engaging to read, and watching as the characters grow close together, and explore the various connections they have built across their lives is incredibly entertaining.

But as well as that, the text is also incredibly thematically deep. 

Every line of dialogue, and very interaction between the characters is charged with subtext, and you can easily pick up on numerous themes as you read it, which helps to make it all so much more powerful. 

The characters of the novel are also incredibly well developed, and have a great complexity to them.

Readers will naturally find themselves drawn into the world of the story, and want to turn each page, eager to find out more about the central cast of characters, and what it is that has made them who they are! 

‘Readers will naturally find themselves drawn into the world of the story, and want to turn each page, eager to find out more about the central cast of characters, and what it is that has made them who they are! 

This is also helped by the fact that the novel is incredibly easy to read.

We mentioned that it was incredibly engaging from the first page to the last, which naturally keeps you hooked, but the prose is also incredibly easy to grasp, and is not full of jargon that might confuse readers. 

As well as being incredibly easy to read, the prose in this novel is also incredibly elegant. Some of the prose in text flowed so naturally that it was almost like reading poetry. 

The book is also easy to read thanks to its length of around 352 pages. This is a great length that makes the book easy to get through, while also not being so short as to feel unsatisfactory.

Every page of every chapter is used perfectly to always be advancing the story and helping you to better understand the world and the characters.

To Wrap Up 

If you’ve ever found yourself interested in reading through the critically acclaimed Home by Marilynne Robinson, then there really is no better time to get started with this amazing novel! 

Though the novel is not set in contemporary times, it is still immensely relevant and touches on timeless themes that tell us a lot about family, the passage of time, and the nature of forgiveness. 

Not only is the novel incredibly engaging and easy to read, with a great pace, and masterful prose, but it is also incredibly enriching, with plenty of thematic depth, and some of the best-written characters we have experienced in a novel for quite some time.

Why not check out this novel for yourself? It is destined to become an all-time classic and become an important part of the literary canon, so dive right in!

Sophie Andrea